It is not uncommon to get ripped off when making a purchase of certain goods or being overcharged when hiring someone for services. In many industries there are no governing regulations and prices are generally dependent upon market forces. But unlike other industries, the legal industry insofar as bankruptcy is concerned has its fees governed by law.
The bankruptcy judge has the right to determine the fees charged by bankruptcy attorneys to some extent. Section 329 of the bankruptcy code gives the judge this power. In fact, it is legally binding for the bankruptcy attorney to declare his fees to the court. The court then reviews the charges and decides if the fees charged are unreasonable. Being required to do this causes many bankruptcy lawyers not to charge excessively for their services.
But there are no hard and fast figures that determine if a fee charged is excessive. Among the things the bankruptcy judge takes into account in deciding whether fees are reasonable are the complexity of the case, the competence and skill of the lawyer and the amount of work the lawyer did in the case. A long-drawn or complicated Chapter 13 bankruptcy would warrant a higher fee than a straightforward Chapter 7 case. If the attorney solved difficult problems for the client, set out creative strategies or filed correct petitions, the charges can be higher.
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